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Chamber Wants The Truth

5 July 2005

Chamber Wants The Truth

Earlier today the Chamber issued a statement welcoming both the level of new funding from Government for Wellington’s transportation infrastructure needs, and the fact that Government was stating that the region would be allowed to decide which option – the Coastal Highway or Transmission Gully – was the best solution to the Western Corridor’s problems.

In releasing this statement we took today’s assurances from Minister Pete Hodgson, all the region’s Labour MPs – including several senior Cabinet Ministers – today, last week and the week before, at face value.

We therefore hope that information released this afternoon by Hon Peter Dunne, that the Government has in private informed him that the money is being tagged to the building of the Coastal highway, is incorrect. If it is correct then the region has been misled and the Government would not be following the statutory requirements set down for deciding on transport infrastructure spending.

“Comments made this afternoon by Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Ian Buchanan, essentially saying that we have no option but to upgrade the Coastal Highway, heightens the Chamber’s unease over the process that we have been engaged in as a region.

Mr Buchanan has suggested that Transmission Gully cannot be built for another 20 years. He has also told the region that, if we are to accept his plan, that no upgrade of SH 1 through the Mana Esplanade area is necessary for the next 10 years. This is totally unacceptable to the Chamber and it membership. We are also concerned that the Chair of the Council has adopted such a one-sided approach to this issue. We had expected him to at least appear impartial in his public comments”, said Charles Finny, Chamber CEO.

“Because of the new information that has been made public, and because of the statements by Ian Buchanan, the Chamber calls for another statement from the Government guaranteeing that it will not be insisting that the extra funding will need to be deployed on the Coastal Highway and that if the region chooses to back the Transmission Gully option, that the money will not be withdrawn.
If such a guarantee is not forthcoming, then we might as well put a stop to the Regional Land Transport Committee’s consideration of the Western Corridor issue, because it will have become a farce,” Charles Finny continued.

“The Chamber has been respecting and seeking to work within the Government’s statutory process involving the Land Transport New Zealand, the Regional Land Transport Committee and Local Roading Authorities to determine matters of priorities and projects. It is a major concern to the Chamber that Government, and the Chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council might not be taking these processes seriously,” Charles Finny said.

“We are also very concerned that Minister Hodgson has said that if Wellington does not speak with a unified voice on this issue, that the Government will withdraw its funding offer. This is both close to blackmail and highly dangerous. This means that anyone of the interested parties has a right of veto. The Chamber therefore calls for the Government to reconsider this element of its position. We can’t let one person or one vested interest threaten the economic growth potential of the entire region,” Charles Finny concluded.

ENDS

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